Wonder  }  Place of worship

Abbey of Novacella/Neustift

Spirituality, art, culture and good wine. A pearl of the Tyrol

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Where is

Trentino-Alto Adige

Via Abbazia, 1, 39040 Novacella BZ, Italia (589m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

Strolling along the bike path that runs along the Eisack River from Brixen through flourishing apple orchards and vineyards that, like a green crown, surround the Abbey of Novacella, the jewel of the Eisack Valley and one of the largest historic religious institutions in the Tyrol. It is composed of several buildings built at different times and with different functions, but all splendid examples of the artistic current from which they sprang.

Why it is special

All these buildings are part of the same complex, sharing its vocation and events. This is how styles intermingle, giving rise to the old hospice, the "Michaelsburg, " the Baroque and Gothic cloisters, and the three churches, including the Romanesque-Gothic-Baroque abbey church. Inside, the museum houses the picture gallery, naturalistic and music-historical collections of the former abbey school. As a good abbey, Novacella also has its own library, a beautiful 18th-century structure full of manuscripts also dating back to the Middle Ages.

Not to be missed

The Augustinians, who have been guarding the abbey for about 1,000 years, have made it a jewel of art and spirituality, a first-rate cultural and musical center, and also a winery of rank and ancient tradition (after all, the northernmost one in Italy). For lovers of good wine, a visit to the historic abbey winery is a must, where, since 1142, fresh local whites, such as Kerner and Sylvaner, and better-known ones like the various Pinots, Mueller Thurgau and aromatic Traminer have been produced.

A bit of history

The abbey was built in 1142 by the prince-bishop of Brixen, Blessed Artmann. It was he who entrusted it to the Augustinian canons regular. At the end of the 12th century, prior Konrad von Rodank had the monastery rebuilt after a terrible fire and erected today's "Castel S. Angelo," the "Michaelsburg," a hospice for the poor and pilgrims. The most dramatic moment for the abbey was 1525 when peasants and commoners, following the impulses of the Lutheran Reformation, sacked it. After a period of decline, a new spring came in the 18th century when several interventions gave us the library and abbey church as we know them today.


In the center of the outer courtyard you can admire the "Well of Wonders." As its name, it recalls atmospheres definitely from A Thousand and One Nights. Its structure is more reminiscent of a shelter for ladies and knights than a well. In reality, the well was not a place of secret encounters or incredible wonders. It owes its name to the painter Nikolaus Schiel, who in 1669 painted in the niches of the octagonal canopy the seven wonders of the ancient world, adding an eighth, namely, the Abbey of Novacella.

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Recommended by
Andrea Vitali

The Augustinian Abbey of Neustift, near Brixen, is one of the most beautiful monastic complexes rich in history and art in all of South Tyrol


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